Diagnosis of ADHD Often Delayed Until Adulthood for Women
| 3 min read
Dr. Amy McKenzie, MD, is vice president of clinical partnerships and associate chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She is a board-certified family medicine physician. She serves on the State of Michigan Certificate of Need Commission. She graduated from Northeast Ohio Medical University and completed her residency at St. John Providence Health System in Southfield, Michigan. In 2017, she completed her MBA with a focus in medical management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
ADHD by the numbers
- The internet: People are more tech-savvy than ever before. They search out answers to medical questions online, gather information, then talk about it with their doctors, often leading to a faster diagnosis.
- Advocacy groups: ADHD support groups for children, parents and adults with the disorder reach across the globe, raising awareness.
- Marketing: Drug companies that make ADHD medications are creating visible campaigns for their products.
- U.S.-style treatments: While non-U.S. psychiatrists have long favored talk-based treatment methods, doctors in the U.S. have relied more on biological or drug-based treatments.
- Broader definition: The U.S. medical community now defines ADHD in much broader terms than other areas of the world, bringing more people under the umbrella of this diagnosis.
ADHD presents differently
- Boys who have trouble sitting still in class and who talk loudly get more negative attention than girls who may appear inattentive
- Girls display symptoms that look more like anxiety
- The changing intensity of symptoms during a girl’s menstrual cycle can delay a diagnosis because the symptoms may be seen as inconsistent
Why ADHD diagnosis can be delayed until adulthood for women
- Good grades or a parent’s help with organization can mask symptoms
- Adult ADHD is a more complex disorder than childhood ADHD and needs a more thorough diagnosis